I’ve previously described the Go! Team’s distinct production style as a kind of mediating device — the equivalent of radio crackle or the frame of a television screen — which presents all of their channel-hopping transmissions as emanating from the same fantasy source. However, the application of this device on The Scene Between feels less knowing; rather than just acting as the glitter glue in a retro scrapbook, its primary role is in removing some of the personality from the individual songs, and helping them to appear outside of history and authorship.
The guest singers are somewhat indistinguishable, as are many of the individual elements of the production, even as diverse references to shoegaze and early hip hop, US alt-rock and UK twee pop are hurled out of the squall. The whining, keening vocals on ‘Blowtorch’ remind me of staying up late to watch early Smashing Pumpkins and Yo La Tengo videos on 120 Minutes (which aired in the UK at 1am), framed (as then) by blasts of sampladelia. Beach House’s Depression Cherry (see previous post) might have given us the year’s best My Bloody Valentine impression, in the form of ‘Sparks’, but The Scene Between comes in a close second with ‘Her Last Wave’. The references even extend into the ’00s, with the distinctly early-Sufjan/Arcade-Fire-style polyphonic spree, ‘The Art Of Getting By’.
In this sense, I find myself thinking about the album’s title. The Go! Team recreate a ‘scene’, disparate in time and location, through simulacra that emphasise both their common similarities and their differences. It is posited as a scene between scenes — an oppositional or hidden scene — that might best be understood as ‘anti-rock’ (with ‘rock’ standing in for straight, male vocal power). There is certainly a curatorial aspect to all this; for me, Ian Parton is a clear analogue to A. G. Cook (whose own simulacra I adore), and there’s a lot of similarities to their approach (as well as to possible critiques concerning their roles as white male auteurs working in overtly feminine, often non-white musical styles).
From the wall to the window,
And the world between,
What we are, what we turn to,
What it really means
— 'The Scene Between'